In a massive development, sources report that CM Ashok Gehlot may ask all ministers to resign from their portfolios at the all-MLA meeting convened at his Jaipur residence. This move hinting at a cabinet reshuffle or expansion comes after 30 Congress MLAs along with several independent MLAs have reportedly extended their support to Deputy CM Sachin Pilot. With this development, Pilot’s camp has increased with 30 MLAs, which reduces Congress’s majority from 107 to 77, cutting close to BJP’s 72 MLAs.
Gehlot may ask all ministers to resign
Sources add that 10 ministers have reached CM Gehlot’s residence to attend the meeting. While Pilot 22 supporting MLAs are not attending the meeting, senior Congress leaders – Randeep Surjewala, Ajay Maken are scheduled to attend the meeting. Pilot has also refused to attend the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meeting on Monday, though Congress claims that there is no rift in the party.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Gehlot has summoned a meeting of all party MLAs tonight in a bid to project a show of strength. Throughout the day several ministers and MLAs visited Gehlot’s home amid a political firestorm in the state. Independent MLAs supporting the Gehlot government have also been invited.
The latest flashpoint in the tussle between Gehlot and Pilot has alarmed the Congress leadership, and some Congress leaders have begun to recall the manner in which the exit of Jyotiraditya Scindia had led to the collapse of the government of Chief Minister Kamal Nath just three months ago.
In a shot in the arm for CM Gehlot, three Congress MLAs, who had left for Delhi, said they would follow the party line. Addressing a press conference, Rohit Bohra, Danish Abrar and Chetan Dudi said they would do whatever the top leadership told them.
The Congress, which had lost Jyotiraditya Scindia and Madhya Pradesh to the BJP after a similar long-drawn battle between the old guard and the new, claimed that there was no threat to the Rajasthan government.
— Jyotiraditya M. Scindia (@JM_Scindia) July 12, 2020
Even Scindia took a dig at his former party, saying the sidelining of Pilot showed talent and capability find little credence in the Congress.
“Sad to see my erstwhile colleague, Sachin Pilot too, being sidelined and persecuted by Rajasthan CM, Ashok Gehlot. Shows that talent and capability find little credence in the Congress,” Scindia said.
Trying to play down reports of factionalism in its Rajasthan unit, Congress general secretary in-charge for the state Avinash Pande said the government in the state was stable and would last its full term.
Pande told PTI all party MLAs in the state were in touch with him. Pande, however, said he was trying to reach out to Pilot and left messages for him. “All Congress MLAs are in touch with me and the government in Rajasthan is stable and will last its full term,” he said.
Rajasthan government teeters
Pilot, who arrived in Delhi on Saturday, has already met with senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel and listed a set of grievances. He has also met with former Congress colleague – Jyotiraditya Scindia, who claimed it was sad to see
Pilot being sidelined and persecuted by Rajasthan CM, after the meeting. While both Rahul and Sonia Gandhi have been briefed about the current situation, Pilot seeks to meet Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to apprise her of the step-motherly treatment being meted out to his faction.
Gehlot claimed that Congress MLAs and Independent legislators were being offered up to Rs.25 lakh each to switch sides on the lines of the recent pattern in Madhya Pradesh. However, BJP refuted this allegation, highlighting that there was infighting among the Congress ranks. Currently, Congress which enjoys the support of 12 Independent MLAs, holds a 48-seat majority over Opposition’s 76.